There are some parties you go to if the lineup is good enough, or because your friends are going. Then there are the parties you never miss. The three events I always attend in Taiwan are Spring Scream, Daniel Pearl Day and the Urban Nomad party. They draw the long-time hermits out to rock and attract a crowd of live music fans, writers, musicians, artists and film buffs which just makes for a good party.
The Urban Nomad film festival, now in its 12th year, begins this weekend with a showing of a short flick titled The Ambassador tonight and their legendary opening party tomorrow at Huashan 1914 Creative Park.
Founders David Frazier (who also writes for this column) and Sean Scanlan are music reporters and have eclectic tastes. In true form, this year the nine-act lineup of live bands and DJs specialize in Japanese crazy-shit-going-on, with Mop of Head and Juicy Lero Lero. The latter is a combination of two bands, Miracle Saru and Mimie Chan. When my sister asked the band what their name meant, she was told that Lero Lero is the sound one makes in the back of the throat when performing fellatio.
They put on a wacky, creative, fun show with costumed musicians belting it out on an array of instruments — Miracle Saru’s psychedelic hard rock trance combined with Mimie Chan’s skas-play (ska + cosplay) horns and costumes and craziness.
In this hybrid world it gets harder and harder to sum up what genre of music a band plays in a few words. Mop of Head play electronic dance music with a post-rock sentiment. Or is it rock-drum-and-bass, or breakbeat-dub-rock? Whatever it is, they do it live, and it makes me want to dance.
“I actually believe human beings are so much better than technology’s stuff,” said founder and keyboardist Takashi “George” Wakamatsu, who is the frontman of the band with Takuma Kikuchi on guitar, bassist Hitomi Kuramochi and Kenji Sakuraoka on drums.
Wakamatsu started playing piano at the age of three, put together Mop of Head in high school and got into jazz in his college years. “The biggest reason why I make original music is I actually want to listen to good tracks/songs for me,” he said. “I just have only music and [am] focused on music only for my life. Eyes, heart, brain, body, I try to perform using all my senses.”
South Rakkas Crew from Canada should demolish the dance floor. The group has gained glowing press reviews producing and remixing for the likes of Tricky and Diplo. See today’s Vinyl Word for an interview with DJ Marcus Aurelius who is also playing at the Urban Nomad party. Aurelius has been laying down OCD tracks himself lately: They give you the over-compulsion to dance. Who knew that Tracy Chapman would sound so good remixed? DJ Noodles, Taiwan’s first female DMC champion, will also be hitting the decks, playing a mix of funk, reggae, hip hop and electronic.
The evening is rounded out by electro-indie group Physical Chemical Brothers (理化兄弟), reggae-rockers Hang in the Air, and DJs Pro Res and visual artist DMT, aka Dominik Tyliszczak (also known as DJ Hooker).
Tyliszczak created the spaceship-inspired DJ stage for Spring Scream this year, with a 3D design enlivened by bizarre, fun projections that lit up the two-story surface and the dancers reveling in front of it with graphic patterns and pulsing images that created a surreal atmosphere.
2013 Urban Nomad Opening Party from 7:30pm tomorrow at Building 3 East A (3東A ), Huashan 1914 Creative Park (華山1914), 1, Bade Rd Sec 1, Taipei City (台北市八德路一段1號). Admission is NT$800 at the door or NT$650 in advance. On the Net: urbannomaden.blogspot.tw
■ Also this weekend, Nashville’s May Hwen will be playing at Roxy Rocker tomorrow with rock band Reid supporting her. The half-Taiwanese, half-American artist recorded two full-length albums this year, Strait Push and Under Control. With definite influences from Karen O of the Yeah Yeah Yeahs and some edgy lyrics — I particularly liked “I am the loaded gun” — Hwen mirrors the newer trends in rock and roll.
May Hwen with Reid at 8pm tommorrow at Roxy Rocker, 177, Heping E Rd Sec 1, Taipei City (台北市和平東路一段177號). Admission is free.
■ For those in the mood for something a little more mellow, Taipei Artist Village is hosting acoustic modern English folk singer and guitarist Megan Dooley with backup harmony vocals by Rachel McPhail. The Taichung-based duo will play a blend of Dooley’s originals and covers.
Megan Dooley and Rachel McPhail from 9pm to 11pm tonight at Taipei Artist Village (台北國際藝術村), 7 Beiping E Rd, Taipei City (台北市北平東路7號). Admission is NT$300 and includes one drink.